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Catterall, Gélinas and Padgham dominate Down Under

By: Melissa Verge

The connection as bat meets ball is so smooth for Alizée Gélinas that she almost doesn’t feel it. 

The Canadian crushes the ball to deep center, and watches as it lands satisfyingly on the other side of the fence at Albert Park Baseball Complex in Australia. 

“I was like ‘oh wow it’s really far away,’” Gélinas said. “Oh, wow, it’s over the fence.”

“Up, up, up …. and there she goes,” longtime former Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth would’ve called it. 

If there’s nerves at playing on an international stage in a foreign country with the majority of teammates she’s just met, Gélinas doesn’t show it. 

“O Canada, O home run,” the broadcaster calls it as the 19-year-old rounds the bases, her blue and yellow Brisbane Bandits jersey illuminated under the stadium lights.

The home run is the first of the Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase, held May 9th -12th in Lismore, New South Wales. 

Gélinas was one of three Women’s National Team players selected to represent Canada at the showcase, alongside teammates Sena Catterall and Raine Padgham.

Even though there was no “CANADA” spelled out across their chests, they were there representing their country, and bringing back experience and insight to help the Women’s National Team succeed.

No matter the on field situation, the Australian players kept their enthusiasm high, always shouting encouragement to their teammates, Gélinas said. 

That’s the same energy she's hoping to bring back to home soil for the Women’s Baseball World Cup coming up this summer, from July 28th - August 3rd in Thunder Bay. 

“It really helps, I saw it before my eyes,” she said. “Our team, we might not have been the best players, but we were all there for each other all the time and cheering, and that really got us far in the tournament.”

The Bandits went on to win gold at the showcase, defeating the Victoria Aces in the final 4-2. Gélinas was an important piece on their roster, with a .667 batting average and five RBIs.

She wasn’t the only Canadian who saw success at the showcase. 

Her teammate on the Women’s National Team, Raine Padgham, was another key part of the Bandits victory, showcasing her skills as a hitter and a pitcher on the international stage. The 18-year-old had a .444 batting average and a 2.00 ERA in 7 innings pitched. 

Getting more innings under her belt as a starter will benefit her in her role with the Women’s National Team, Padgham said, who started for the Bandits and played in the finals.

“In the gold medal game having that higher pressure situation on the mound I think will really help me get prepared for the World Cup,” Padgham said.

The on field success the Bandits saw throughout the showcase was in part due to the prep work they put in off of it.

They did extensive research into who they were facing, so when a hitter came up to the plate or a pitcher came up to the mound, they already knew what to expect, Sena Catterall said, the third Canadian player at the showcase.

That research helped her out on defense in particular, giving the young athlete a chance to make a play on what would’ve otherwise been a base hit. 

“Especially I’d say in the field it helped a lot because I was able to position myself differently with different batters and get outs that might not have been outs if I’d just played them normally," Catterall said.

That in depth pre-game analysis is something she hopes to bring back to the Women’s National Team this summer. 

She soaked it all in at the tournament, gaining insight from some of the older Australian ball players. Just as she was interested in learning from them, the stands at the showcase were full of young girls interested in learning from her and the other players. They crowded around after the game, asking for autographs. 

“Just knowing they have a future to grow into and a future to play into I think is huge for them, so that’s something I’m proud of that we could be that for them,” she said. 

The 22-year-old gave them lots to watch, stealing two bases and scoring six runs over the course of the showcase.

That’s the same energy she’s hoping to bring to the World Cup this year. 

Not just for the success of Canada, but for the future of the sport - the young girls who will be watching in the stands, just as they were in Australia.

“The opportunity that these girls are getting to watch some of the best players in the world compete at a high level, I mean I wish I would’ve had that as a kid,” she said. 

“If they’re able to see that, watching us athletes like that, they have a future to grow into, and I think that’s really important for young girls,” she said.